Title: Genesis Begins Again
Author: Alicia D. Williams
Published: January 15, 2019
Theme: Identity, Family, and Addiction
Character Origin: Human
Book Type: Middle School | Pages: 384
Ages: 9-13 | Book Level: 4.5 | Lexile Measure:
Synopsis: This deeply sensitive and powerful debut novel tells the story of a thirteen-year-old who must overcome internalized racism and a verbally abusive family to finally learn to love herself.
There are ninety-six things Genesis hates about herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list. Like #95: Because her skin is so dark, people call her charcoal and eggplant—even her own family. And #61: Because her family is always being put out of their house, belongings laid out on the sidewalk for the world to see. When your dad is a gambling addict and loses the rent money every month, eviction is a regular occurrence.
This is a story of Genesis Anderson, a middle school girl whose family is constantly on the move as her parents struggle to pay the rent and make ends meet. This makes it nearly impossible for her to make friends. She has difficulty being comfortable in her own skin and tries unsuccessfully to change it. Eventually, she settles into a new school and new friends but her home life threatens to destroy it all.
It’s hard to believe that this is Williams’ debut novel. Where do I start? The novel hits on a couple of big topics: addiction, identity, and family. Genesis is faced with many revelations that shape how she views herself and others. Like many dark-skinned African-Americans, she’s called by every name in the book just because of her complexion. This skews Genesis’ view of herself and what beauty really is. This is so relatable for many kids that have not yet discovered their own identity.
Williams’ ability to interweave complicated family relationships, addiction, and identity serves as a catalyst that will separate Genesis Begins Again from other YA (or Middle Grades) novels. The text is well written and the storyline is engaging. It leaves the reader waiting for the next shoe to drop. You could feel the tension rising as you turn the pages. I was able to appreciate the instability that is always in the undercurrent of the story. I loved Genesis’ evolution–it was masterfully executed. I look forward to seeing what’s next from Alicia D. Williams.